My Editor has an odd sense of humor. For my last review, he sent me something out of the 1770's with iFi Audio's Retro System - Stereo 50 Integrated Amp/DAC and LS3.5 speakers. This time he sent me something from the future: The Eclipse TD-M1 wireless stereo speaker system. Have you seen the movie Aliens? Yes. Well then, picture the Aliens head mounted on short speaker stands. That's what's been inhabiting my desk for the past few months.
E.T. Phone Home
Placing a speaker on each side of my dual monitor PC setup, the Eclipse TD-M1 wireless stereo speaker system fits right in. Hi-Res Music will mainly come from my Mac, and from the Questyle QP1R. Am one of those guys who works 9 to 5 in front of my PC. The Quick Start Guide consisted of pictures and icons so as to be universal no matter what language you understand. A casual review of the full-sized manual and my Zen-like demeanor was satisfied. The initial setup process was very easy to accomplish. While the Eclipse TD-M1 system consists of two orbs (speakers), only the base of one speaker holds the input/output connection that is noted as the right channel speaker within the manual. The right channel loudspeaker contains all the input/output connections, while the left channel loudspeaker housed a single stereo input. You simply place the speakers where you want them, then connect the right speaker to the left speaker and you're almost done. Connect the included power cable and you're good to go. As long as each speaker is within five feet of each that is. It's doubtful that this limitation will be an issue for most, though what if I wanted to place my speakers a little farther apart. As I'll learn a bit later, speaker placement is a bit critical on one hand, yet unimportant on the other. Read on to learn more on this.
Who Are You... Who Who, Who
And waited. I pressed the area again and waited some more. Looking at the base of the right channel speaker you will see nothing. No buttons, knobs, switches, indents or grooves. There appeared to be nothing to indicate an on or off button. The Eclipse TD-M1 system has touch sensors and LED indicators for all functions. Since I prefer my office a bit on the dark side, plus am getting a bit old, there are small yet powerful flashlights within every room including my desk. A brief shine of my trusty tactical flash light and I there it was! Directly above the Eclipse logo is a grey-out Power icon, seven small to large dots and UP/DOWN arrows. Touching the Power icon and a small amber led begins to glow, which turns to green, once ready.
As is my process, once I have successful power-up, I stop. During the entire reviewing process this is the most difficult part. I don't hit play on my DAP or select a file from my Mac that is currently running Audirvana Plus software. I stop, and then scan through the manual. With any new system it is always wise to check for software and firmware updates. Note that Eclipse's TD-M1 wireless speaker system did not require any firmware updates, with the most recent update being released in December 2014. I did take the opportunity to download the Eclipse TD Remote App from the Apple App Store. This App would prove to be critical to my enjoyment of the Eclipse system.
Since I was on their excellent and informative website, I took the opportunity to look around a bit. A clear, easy to maneuver, fast loading website is critical these days. It is usually the first thing a potential client/customer will notice about your product; and sometimes, the last. The Eclipse website is quite good and so within minutes I was able to deduce that not only does Eclipse manufacture many more products such as a full-line of speakers, subwoofers and accessories, they have added many awards too. I was able to find specs, software downloads, manuals and more. Very nice and very appreciated. I also learned that Eclipse is part of the Global Fujitsu Ten empire. While I've never heard of Eclipse, I knew Fujitsu very well. Their manual in PDF form was very useful during my review process.
Release The Kraken
There are multiple ways to listen to your connected devices on the Eclipse TD-M1 wireless speaker system. You can choose between AirPlay (Wi-Fi mode or Direct mode), USB (type A and B), and the AUX connection. Since I have good Wi-Fi coverage, I started with AirPlay in W-iFi mode (recommended over Direct Mode). To choose the input, you select the power source control on the front of the TD-M1. Yes, the power icon and source icon are one and the same and so tap the icon until you reach a desired input. The inputs are configured from AirPlay, USB B, USB A and AUX. Small indicator lights in the front will follow along. The UP and DOWN arrows double as volume controls and Network switchers. Network connections are relatively easy to understand, with the manual in hand, patience, and a little practice. Not to brag, but I'm a network engineer and so I had to think about my network flow from time to time. You really are choosing between Wi-Fi mode or Direct mode. You either attach the TD-M1 to your network (via router) or connect to it with a compatible device (iPhone). After an hour of playing around with the different options, I selected the Wi-Fi mode and the Eclipse TD Remote App.
These days, if your device has a DAC but doesn't have an App I am a bit concerned. The Eclipse TD Remote App is simple to use and has everything you need. There is a small delay with the volume slider, as is true with all network-accessed control devices, so use caution when adjusting the volume. The speakers are usually 20" from my face, so I learned quickly. Selecting USB B, flipped to my Audirvana Plus App, chose my Reviewers Playlist and flipped back to the Eclipse TD Remote to adjust the volume.
Obviously, the AirPlay setup will allow you to place and control the Eclipse TD-M1 virtually anywhere, which is very cool. True Wi-Fi mode setup takes a while longer, but will allow the TD-M1 to function more like your Apple TV box. Direct mode grabs your Wi-Fi connection, so you can't use it for streaming for Tidal, Spotify and the like. Using the USB A connection lets you connect to the TD-M1 with your iPhone or iPod. As a bonus, the USB A port will charge them as well. That's a very handy little feature as we all know you always need more power. As mentioned, the USB B port is your go to for your laptop, tablet, TV or even a CD player. A great deal of music was played through the AUX IN terminal (3.5mm stereo jack) and the headphone output from my Questyle QP1R portable music player. I did a lot of A/B comparison between the AUX IN and the USB B inputs. The Questyle QP1R portable music player is used virtually every day, so it is a great baseline. I know what a particular song sounds like on this DAP.
The Eclipse TD-M1 wireless speaker system is stuffed with some very impressive high-end audio electronics. The USB ports utilizes a top quality USB controller capable of 24-bit/192kHz. The DAC is a nice sounding non-oversampling type, and for sound amplification they include a high-efficiency Class D digital amp. By this time it was growing late, and so selected a few songs from my playlist to check for sound. As is my process, to introduce a bit of commonality and objectivity into my review process, starting with the Hi-Res Audio collection and working my way down in sound quality. I started with my usual Hi-Res Audio pieces such as Michael Jackson's Thriller (DSD64), Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever (FLAC 24-bit/96kHz), and Billy Joel's The Stranger (AIFF 24/88.2kHz) just to make sure I could play all formats.
Good sound quality doesn't call attention to itself. It simply is. The Eclipse TD-M1 wireless speaker system simply blended in to my desktop environment. It didn't distract or call attention to itself. Classical music rolled from the speakers with a tonality that was clear, crisp and clean. High to midrange frequencies were balanced, with no discernable drop off from one range to another. Midrange and Mid-bass were somewhat lacking, which is true in most classical pieces, and so it was time to wake everyone up. The Weeknd's The Hills is currently my deep bass bottoming song of choice. I wasn't expecting the Eclipse TD-M1 system to put me into cardiac arrest. Simply wanted to hear where the deepest bass floor was living and found it. To the credit of the 8cm full-range cones, they were able to produce quite good mid-bass and roll off the ultra-low sub-bass naturally. I didn't try to flatten the cones with my special Sub-Woofer Test List (it's a devastating list, ask me about it sometime). I was impressed how these orbs continued to deal with this much bass, and yet still produce good sound. True, the low-bass seemed to roll off around 70Hz, but the mid-bass was very satisfying.
Over the next several weeks, the Eclipse TD-M1 wireless speaker system blended into my daily grind. Five to six days a week, for three to six hours a day. Music, whatever mood I was in, the Eclipse TD-M1 system performed on demand. Not a bump or bounce, just smooth transitioning from the high-treble to mid's, and finally to the bass. Clearly, the engineers spent a great deal of time with these speakers. The design engineers hit the R&D checkbook hard.
No one should expect full range sound quality including hard hitting sub-bass (20Hz and below) with 8cm cones. If you do, well, you have other issues, perhaps one of them being in not fully understanding physics. After reviewing the Eclipse website and noting their range of speakers includes subwoofers, perhaps this would be a great time for me to add an impressive looking Eclipse TD520SW subwoofer? So if you're into music that has quite a bit of deep bass, you should also check out their line of subwoofers.
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Wrapping It Up
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